July 28, 2001

Former Bronco Wins MLS All-Star Challenge

July 28, 2001

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Led by the hometown All-Stars from the San Jose Earthquakes, the Western Division was crowned MLS/Pepsi All-Star Pro Skills Challenge champions on Thursday night at a lively Spartan Stadium. Midfielder Landon Donovan and goalkeeper Joe Cannon, a Santa Clara University grad, single-handedly won four of six events for the West (15pts) which went on to outdistance the second-place Central Division (12 points). The players from the Eastern Division, who mounted a late comeback, finished third with 11pts.

The following is a chronological recap of the Skills Challenge:

The Central Division tandem of Dema Kovalenko and Brian McBride, used fine teamwork to overcome the skillful East duo of Cate and Alex Pineda Chacon in the final of AirSoccer. The Central team set each other up efficiently and were well-positioned to make every point count. Pineda Chacon and Cate, who were not as consistent as their counterparts with header shots, were often indecisive and out of position on their shots across the net.

Landon Donovan, the pre-event favorite to win the Fastest Man competition, emerged victor in the final round as he faced the fastest player from the other divisions (Dema Kovalenko in the Central and Santino Quaranta in the East). While Kovalenko had an early lead in the first 40-yards with the ball at his feet, Donovan turned it up a notch when it came to the final 40-yard run. His sprint easily beat the field as he raised his hands in triumph at the finish line. DaMarcus Beasley, who was expected to be a finalist for the Central, tripped up in the third heat and only concluded the race after he was coaxed on by Donovan.

With his powerful throws and excellent positioning, Joe Cannon ushered a new skill into Goalie Wars, arguably the most trying competition of the MLS/Pepsi Skills Challenge for its end-to-end pace during each of the two-and-a-half minute rounds. In a final where all the goals scored came via the throw, Cannon, whose brother plays professional baseball, edged out Zach Thornton 4-3 after vomiting just before taking the field. The two goalkeepers had also met in Round Two and played to another close battle which Cannon also won 3-2.

"Being that it's my first time here I really wanted to prove I belonged," Cannon said. "I battled back to win in front of the home crowd."

The Central Division earned a momentary lead on the night with their players' performance in the Gol Olimpico competition but it was forward Luis Hernandez's effort on the chip shot phase of the event that won over the Spartan Stadium crowd. With a delightful move, called 'la rabona', where he elegantly brought his left foot behind his right leg to chip the shot, Hernandez netted two of his three attempts and totaled four points.

The two players with the most powerful shots among nine contestants in the opening round, finished tied in the Power Shot final. The East's Steve Jolley blasted a 75mph kick and was matched by Cannon's strike in the championship round. No player however, surpassed Thornton's 81mph winner in last season's final, his third consecutive title at the time. Thornton declared his retirement from the event after his 2000 victory. The strongest shot of the night came on a 78mph cracker from Cannon in the opening round.

The Western Division sealed their victory by tying the resurgent Eastern team in the final event of the night, Bullseye. While no player could nail more than two targets on the night, the West duo of Donovan and Spencer tallied three total points, matching the feat of the Miami Fusion's Jim Rooney and Pineda Chacon.

"I think it was pretty easy to predict who would win tonight," said Donovan, who signed autographs for the fans during the competition. "We were the better team and it showed. A lot of people came out to see us and we are happy for it."

U.S. Women's National Team, Bay Area Cyber Rays player and former Santa Clara All-America Brandi Chastain and San Jose Earthquakes Assistant Coach Dominic Kinnear were on hand to explain regulations and offer play-by-play commentary to the raucous crowd gathered at the South End of Spartan Stadium.

The sixth-annual MLS All-Star Game between East and West teams will be played on Saturday at Spartan Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET). The contest will be seen nationally on ABC and internationally on ESPN international.

What follows is the event-by-event breakdown of the 2001 MLS/Pepsi All-Star Skills Challenge:

Event by Event Scoring:

East

2

1

1

1

3

3

11

Central

3

2

2

3

1

1

12

West

1

3

3

2

3

3

15

EASTERN DIVISION: Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Miami Fusion), Jim Rooney (Miami Fusion), Steve Jolley (MetroStars), Alex Pineda Chacon (Miami Fusion), Caté (New England Revolution),

CENTRAL DIVISION: Mamadou Diallo (Tampa Bay Mutiny), John Wilmar Perez (Columbus Crew), Mike Clark (Columbus Crew), Dema Kovalenko (Chicago Fire), Brian McBride (Columbus)

WESTERN DIVISION: Manny Lagos (San Jose Earthquakes), Jeff Agoos (San Jose Earthquakes), Luis Hernandez (Los Angeles Galaxy), John Spencer (Colorado Rapids), Marcelo Balboa (Colorado Rapids), Matt McKeon (Kansas City Wizards), Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes), Joe Cannon (San Jose Earthquakes).

EVENT 1: AIRSOCCER (CENTRAL 3pts, EAST 2pts, WEST 1pt)

Teams:

East: Caté, Pineda Chacon
Central: McBride, Kovalenko
West: Balboa, Agoos

Preliminaries: Central 11, East 8 West 9, Central 6 East 11, West 6

(Note: All teams finished with a 1-1 record after the preliminary rounds. Using the first tiebreaker (goal differential), the East and Central teams moved to the final with a better goal differential.

Final: Central 8, East 3 (game concluded after seven minutes of regulation time elapsed)

EVENT 2: FASTEST MAN (West 3pts, Central 2pts, East 1pt)

Heat 1: Donovan (West) 12.06, Serna (East) 14, Wilmar Perez (Central) 14.09
Heat 2: Lagos (West) 12.09, Quaranta (East) 13.02, Kovalenko (Central) 13.06
Heat 3: McKeon (West) n/a, Beasley (Central) n/a (Beasley fell to begin the race)
Final: Donovan (West) 12.07, Kovalenko (Central) 13.02, Quaranta 15.03

EVENT 3: GOALIE WARS (West 3pts, Central 2pts, East 1pt)

Round 1: Thornton (Central) 5, Rimando (East) 2
Round 2: Cannon (West) 3, Thornton (Central) 2
Round 3: Cannon (West) 4, Rimando (East) 1
Final: Cannon (West) 4, Thornton (Central) 3

EVENT 4: GOL OLIMPICO (Central 3pts, West 2pts, East 1pt)

Corner Kick Shots: Wilmar Perez (Central) 2, Cate (East) 0, Donovan (West) 0
Over-the-Wall Shots: Spencer (West) 2, Kovalenko (Central) 2, Rooney (East) 1
Chip Shots: Hernandez (West) 4, Diallo (Central) 3, Serna (East) 0

EVENT 5: POWER SHOT (East 3pts, West 3pts, Central 1pt)

Two kicks per player:

  • Serna (East): 72mph & 72mph
  • Diallo (Central): 66mph & 64mph
  • Balboa (West): 70mph & 73mph
  • Rooney (East): 73mph & 69mph
  • Clark (Central): 69mph & miss
  • Agoos (West): 68mph & 73mph
  • Jolley (East): miss & 75mph
  • Wilmar Perez (Central): 72mph & 74mph
  • Cannon (West): 73mph & 78mph

Final:

  • Jolley (East): 73mph & 75mph
  • Wilmar Perez (Central): miss & 69mph
  • Cannon (West): 71mph & 75mph

(Note: East and West teams finished tied for the most powerful shot in the final round and claimed three points each from the competition. The Central team finished third and earned one point)

EVENT 6: BULLSEYE (West 3pts, East 3pts, Central 1pt)

(Each player had four bullseyes to hit - four in each corner of the goal)

East: 3 bullseyes -- Rooney (East) 1, Pineda Chacon (East) 2
Central: 2 bullseyes -- Beasley (Central) 2, McBride (Central) 0
West: 3 bullseyes -- Spencer (West) 1, Donovan (West) 2

(Note: since both East and West teams hit the same number of targets, they both emerged with three points from the competition)